In one week, new daily coronavirus cases in the United States went from 104,000 to more than 145,000 on Wednesday, the latest all-time high. Almost every metric is trending in the wrong direction as states add restrictions and health officials warn of a dangerous fall ahead.
For most slopes in America, November signals the start of ski and snowboard season. Millions of travelers make their way to the mountains every winter dreaming of fresh powder.
But, of course, things aren’t so certain this year. Between coronavirus cases climbing, health concerns and travel restrictions, would-be skiers and snowboarders may find it difficult to venture out.
David Beuther, a Denver-based pulmonologist at National Jewish Health who plans to take a ski trip this season, says families may have to navigate these issues all winter, even with this week’s hopeful news of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine. “Overall, I don’t think there’s going to be a substantial change or relief of the pandemic during the next ski season.”
Maryland’s largest school system could bring some students in special education back to campuses Jan. 12 and begin phasing in a combined approach to in-person learning Feb. 1, under a preliminary plan tied to health metrics that was approved Tuesday.
The plan tentatively agreed to by the Montgomery County Board of Education is a step toward returning children to bricks-and-mortar schools, at least part time, amid the pandemic. A final vote is slated for Dec. 3, with a parent survey and a special staff portal to be launched this week.
But whether the timeline holds is an open question, with coronavirus cases on the rise in the suburban county of more than a million residents and across the state.
On Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced a return to several restrictions that were in place earlier in the pandemic. They include reduced indoor dining capacity for restaurants and a stricter travel advisory.
Nobody knows how the novel coronavirus sneaked through the barbed wire and imposing gates of Ohio’s Pickaway Correctional Institution, where visitors and volunteers were barred from entering in March. But the first case showed up April 4.
Within a week, 23 inmates and 17 staff members were found to be infected. One inmate, Charles Viney Jr., a 66-year-old with a collapsed lung, died hours after testing positive. Within a month, more than three-quarters of Pickaway’s roughly 2,000 inmates were confirmed positive. By the end of May, 35 were dead.
Pickaway, where officials acknowledged that efforts to control viral spread were hectic and hindered by imperfect testing, exemplifies the broad challenges facing the nation’s jail and prison systems in the grip of the pandemic. Conditions long considered degrading — including overcrowded, unsanitary housing and inadequate inmate health care — have, in many places, become deadly.
You can go to Chipotle’s newest restaurant, but you can’t stay there.
With online orders booming during the pandemic, the fast-casual Mexican chain announced Wednesday that it is rolling out a new restaurant format that exclusively services pickup and deliveries. Chipotle Digital Kitchen is the company’s take on the “ghost kitchen” model — empty of diners and fast on orders — and when it opens this weekend in Highland Falls, New York, it’ll kick off the company’s plan to boost online sales in “nontraditional locations.”
As more people turn to takeout and delivery to avoid public places during the coronavirus outbreak, cash-strapped restaurateurs have been forced to chase down dollars in novel ways, including testing new concepts or paring down operational costs with ghost kitchens.
Food deliveries were already on the rise before the pandemic, but in the age of shutdowns and social distancing, it has become a rare pathway to growth in an otherwise meager landscape. A study by the NPD Group found that delivery orders climbed 67 percent in March, even as restaurant traffic slumped 22 percent. Food delivery revenues overall are projected to hit $24 billion by 2023, according to Statista.
Frostburg State University will move classes online for the second time in as many weeks, following another sharp increase in coronavirus cases on campus, officials said.
Students will finish the semester remotely starting Thursday, the university said. The announcement comes amid new guidance from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and as the virus surges through the western part of the state and in Allegany County, where Frostburg State is located.
“Contact tracing continues to indicate, like elsewhere, that most transmission is coming via social and household gatherings,” said Liz Medcalf, a university spokeswoman.
Enforcement of Ohio’s mask mandate will be beefed up amid a surge of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday.
Responding to concerns that those defying the statewide order issued in July were further spreading the virus, DeWine (R) said in an evening video address that the new order will require businesses to post signs at their doors about the rule and crack down on customers who do not comply.
Ohio has experienced a surge in coronavirus cases in the past month. On Wednesday, the state reported 5,874 infections, its second-highest number in a single day after Tuesday’s 6,508 cases.
Although 34 states and the District of Columbia already mandate face coverings, according to AARP, DeWine is the latest state leader to stiffen penalties and impose new restrictions as the nation battles a record-breaking caseload.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) expanded his mask order from May 1 to include all public places — not just public spaces where social distancing is not possible — which began Friday.
Republican governors in Utah and Iowa who previously resisted calls to require masks have initiated orders in the past week.
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Trump rails against ‘medical deep state’ after Pfizer vaccine news comes after Election Day
President Trump is lashing out at the Food and Drug Administration following a disclosure Monday that an experimental coronavirus vaccine from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is more than 90 percent effective, convinced the timing — six days after Election Day — proves the “medical deep state” deliberately tried to sabotage his electoral prospects by delaying the results.
Shortly after Trump heard the news Monday, he demanded Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar “get to the bottom” of what happened with Pfizer, according to a senior White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the president’s actions.
A few hours later, the issue was front and center at a meeting of the White House coronavirus task force when FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn briefed members about the vaccine data.
A man entered a tea shop near Northwest Washington’s Dupont Circle yelling “Chinese” and “covid-19” and then pepper-sprayed the Chinese proprietor, according to D.C. police, who are investigating the attack as a suspected hate crime.
The incident happened Tuesday morning at Valley Brook Tea in the 2100 block of P Street NW. Police have not made any arrests.
Yunhan Zhang, who opened the shop in February, said the attack was at least the second time he or his shop has been targeted since the outbreak of the pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China.
Another White House official who attended President Trump’s election-night gathering has tested positive for the coronavirus, a senior administration official confirmed Wednesday.
White House political director Brian Jack is the latest person in Trump’s circle to test positive for the virus since a wave of infections swept through the West Wing, sickening Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, among others. Meadows and Carson were also at the Nov. 3 event in the East Room, where more than 150 people gathered in close contact, many not wearing masks, though none have said their infection came from the gathering. Carson told The Washington Post’s Ben Terris that he contracted the virus “probably somewhere, out there in the universe.”
Multiple staffers within the Office of Political Affairs have also tested positive, according to the senior administration official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity. At least one infected person did not attend the election-night event.
A White House spokesperson declined to comment. Jack’s diagnosis was first reported by the New York Times.
Analysis: The government’s coronavirus response is now officially a failure by its own measure
By March, the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic appeared to have set in at the White House. President Trump’s regular briefings on the deadly virus had for some time been breezy, dismissive of the threat it posed. But Trump’s claims that all was well in hand were proving false.
As cases mounted and localities began shutting down economic activity to contain the virus’s spread, the White House coronavirus task force suddenly took a new approach. It rolled out recommendations aimed at curtailing the rampant spread of the virus, citing data suggesting that, without intervention, between 1.5 million and 2.2 million people might die. With an effort at intervention, the toll might be somewhere from 100,000 to 240,000 deaths.
Swedish authorities implemented new coronavirus restrictions Wednesday amid a spike in cases in the country, where officials had declined to impose strict lockdowns in the spring like had many of their European neighbors.
Throughout the pandemic, Swedish officials have largely backed the idea that people could be trusted to make the right choices to limit the spread of the virus. But concerns that too many people are failing to follow public-health guidelines have prompted the government to ban restaurants and bars from selling alcohol after 10 p.m., starting Nov. 20 and remaining in place through February.
“All the indicators point in the wrong direction,” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told reporters Wednesday. “The infection is spreading quickly and just in the last week the number of people with the coronavirus who are being treated in intensive care more than doubled.”
The new rules are mild compared with initiatives taken in other European countries experiencing high case numbers, several of which have opted to impose strict lockdowns in recent weeks.
But authorities in Stockholm also implemented new restrictions on nursing homes in the capital region Wednesday. Elder-care facilities suffered immensely during the first months of the outbreak, with nearly half of people who died of the virus by May identified as residents of assisted-living facilities.
There are currently confirmed infections at 48 out of 313 facilities in the Stockholm region, with more than 20 of those locations reporting cases in the past week, Reuters reported.
Moderna will soon assess effectiveness of its coronavirus vaccine
The biotechnology company Moderna announced Wednesday afternoon that its coronavirus vaccine trial has reached a crucial threshold that will allow an independent committee to analyze whether it is effective.
The announcement came two days after Pfizer said that an early analysis of its ongoing trial showed its vaccine candidate was more than 90 percent effective at preventing people from developing covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Both vaccine candidates use a similar underlying technology, and in an interview Monday, Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the positive trial results may bode well for Moderna, too.
The trials have moved forward faster than anticipated because of the surge of coronavirus cases in the cooler months. In the trials, half the participants — 30,000 people in the Moderna trial — receive two doses of a vaccine, and half receive placebo shots. Neither the participants nor the company knows which participants received which shot, but the trials are designed to allow an independent committee to look at the data early to see if there is a signal that people who received the vaccine are less likely to get sick.
Moderna’s trial planned a first look at the data at 53 cases, but as the virus has run rampant in the United States, there will likely be far more cases in the first data analysis, the company said in a statement.
Daily coronavirus infections surpass 3,000 in D.C. region, setting record for eighth day
Coronavirus infections across the greater Washington region surged past the 3,000 mark Wednesday for the first time, spreading with relative ease as caseloads set another record high.
The rolling seven-day average of new cases across Virginia, Maryland and D.C. stood Wednesday at 3,015, making it the eighth consecutive day with a record number of new cases. The continued surge comes as local leaders are reimposing restrictions and monitoring a leap in cases tied to a nationwide spike.
Oregon officials will make nearly $600,000 in federal funding available to local strippers and sex workers of color who have lost income because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Oregonian reported.
The grant will provide up to $1,600 for rent, $500 for utilities and $150 for Internet services to 75 people. An additional 200 applicants will receive a mail-in coronavirus test and a test for sexually transmitted infections, as well as health products including face masks, hand sanitizer and pulse oximeters.
Haymarket Pole Collective, a Portland-based organization that advocates for Black and Indigenous adult-entertainment workers, will administer the grant to people who earn money “using their or other people’s sexuality to financially assist themselves,” Cat Hollis, Haymarket’s founder, told the Oregonian. She said Black, Indigenous and transgender applicants, as well as those who are homeless or live with minor dependents, will receive priority.
The relief funding is part of $45 million in health equity grants that Oregon officials plan to distribute to nonprofit organizations and tribal governments across the state to address the pandemic’s disproportionate effect on those tribal communities and communities of color.